First Stop in Acadia National Park: Hulls Cove Visitor Center in Bar Harbor

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Aug 042012

Acadia National Park occupies 30,300 acres on Mount Desert Island.  There are 125 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads, and 24 mountains.

So, if you’re spending your vacation in Acadia, you may have a few questions: What are the best trails for kids?  Is it hard to park near Eagle Lake?  Where are the carriage drives in the park?

Hulls Cove Visitors Center Bar Harbor

That’s where Hulls Cove Visitor Center comes in.  Located on Route 3 north of Bar Harbor, it is staffed with park rangers who can answer questions like these and help plan your visit.  In addition, there are free publications, a free 15-minute audiovisual program about the park, and an audio tour of Acadia you can buy.

At Hulls Cove Visitor Center you can also pay your entrance fee, which is $20.  And, if you’re 62 or older, you can get a $10 lifetime entrance pass to access more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.

Entrance fees for Acadia National Park

Hulls Cove Visitor Center also features several exhibits about park resources and activities.  The very best of these, in my opinion, is the huge three-dimensional map of Mount Desert Island.  It shows the relative heights of the mountains, which are all labeled.  You can see how Somes Sound, which is six miles long, divides the island in two.  Try to spot Bar Harbor, Echo Lake, and other points of interest.

3D Map Hulls Cove Visitors Center

The better you know the island, the more you’ll love this map and want to return again and again, as I do.

Hulls Cove Visitor Center is open April 15 through October 31st.

Also, be sure to take advantage of online planning tools before you depart for Maine.  OUR ACADIA, for example, has restaurant reviews, tips on what to do if it rains, and lists of activities for kids.  The National Park Service site has the current edition of the Beaver Log, which details ranger-led programs.

Planning in advance not only reduces stress during your vacation, but also enhances your happiness.  Seriously.

When researchers from the Netherlands measured the effect that vacations have on overall happiness, they found that the largest boost comes from the simple act of planning a vacation! The effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.

Related Stories:

14 Ways to Save Money on a Trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

We’re Planning a Vacation to Acadia National Park, But Where Is the Best Place to Stay on Mount Desert Island?

Great Itineraries for Three Days, One Week, and Two Weeks in Acadia National Park